Kangaroo Hop (The Swiss Connection)

7th November, 2019

G’Day Riff Raffers,

It’s an Australian hop, the Kangaroo hop, but it’s also the German hop.

Earlier this year I found The Kangaroo mouth organ in of all places Riga, Latvia. I had believed in the beginning that this was manufactured by Seydel for Albert’s here down under. In Ray Grieve’s magnificent resource book Boomerangs & Crackajacks there is a picture of a 1913 J Albert & Son advertisement with The Kangaroo in company with a Wallaroo and a Coo-ee (both of these were Seydel products). On closer examination of my specimen I noticed something was missing. Registered-Made In Germany wasn’t stamped on the front cover plate. The graphics and font, however appeared to be exactement.

Stamped on the reverse cover plate was a large letter R (perhaps some lettering after), Swiss Harmonica, a circular Made In Switzerland mark and the trademark pictured here. All I see is a lady in a dress. Pat Missin, harmonica savant, initially identified the maker as Thorens! Well blow me down with a harmonica!

Pat would also send me a page from a 1908 Catalogue which had The Kangaroo mouth organ stamped Registered-Made In Germany and clearly designated as manufactured by Ands Koch, the same mouth organ pictured in Ray’s book. What what what? This had us all scratching our heads. Where to next? I sent an email off to Isabella Kraph a fine harmonica player, who years ago stumbled across Bohm and Rauner stamps and dies in Seydel’s storerooms. Isabella replied to my email on how this possibly could be and if she knew of a Koch/Thorens connection.

Hi Shep,

……the cover stamp (the german term is deckel-prägestempel) was made by another factory …..it is very massive work …a heavy metal block and it was not made in the harmonica factory since this was a completely different thing…..also the boxes for harmonicas were usually made somewhere else – so it can also happen that you find quite similar boxes in different brands

so I guess that maybe the factory/ manufactory made two of these prägestempel and sold one to Switzerland and one to Klingenthal ….but also the : “made in germany ” would be on the stamp so it is not really the identical stamp

also back then there was not much choice for writings and kangaroo emblems ….like when you had a printed crocodile in a children’s book a long time ago you would also find the same crocodile picture in a lexicon or somewhere else

also I guess there were not so many factories who would made these stamps

so again …the only link I see here is the stamp …..but that came not from Seydel

greetings Isabella

Pat found some comfort in Isabella’s response stating, “Isabella’s comments make a lot of sense-I’m glad that something does in this story.”

I contacted Thorens in hope their historical records had been maintained. Michael Garner for the company told me that, “We do not have any information on old Thorens mouth organs at all. Sorry, no chance at all, all the documentation was lost during the decades.”

What’s that Skip?

Go get Pat Skip, we’ll have another look at the Trademark.

He’s not just a Kangaroo he’s a champion. Good on ya Skip.

Where does this leave us? Confused to say the least. We revisited the trademark once more and with meticulous forensic examination by Pat it was discovered to be a manipulated Koch trademark. Just a headshot of the goat that usually stands on a rock. Why is it so? Well history reveals Germany was on the nose around the period of 1914-18. Having Made In Germany stamped on your product was not great for business, however Made In Switzerland on the other hand did-you know it makes sense.

Trossingen’s proximity to the Swiss border and by somehow meeting regulations would provide Koch with a unique marketing opportunity. They removed their own brand name from the covers and replaced it with Rigi (Mountain Range In Switzerland) and cropped their trademark logo to have just the head of the Chamois (Goat-Antelope family). I can see a goat now! So there you go, the mystery demystified. It is speculated little or no manufacturing was done in Switzerland, but just enough to qualify for a Made In Switzerland stamp. Koch’s clever branding of Rigi on the harmonica reinforced the perception this is a Swiss harp-not German! It has to be doesn’t it?

(Picture courtesy of John Whiteman from his collection of harmonica box art)

I could also include in this journey the Kangaroo Charmer sold by Albert’s as early as 1896 and The Kangaroo they sold in 1923, but what would that prove?

(Picture courtesy of Ray Grieve’s book ‘ Boomerangs & Crackajacks’)

It’s well known Kangaroos like to hang around in Mobs and that’s what appears to be happening to the mouth organs that carry the same moniker. It’s just a Kangaroo hop, the Australian hop, the Germany hop.

Ch SD

PS: FYI Hohner also had a Swiss made line called Helvetia seen here with the box artwork from an Alliance harp.

In The Smith’s Weekly of December 1919 a report under a sub heading King Street Shop Displays Hun Goods stated the Alberts Music Store was advertising quite blatantly Made in Germany mouth organs. In one paragraph it mentions the Boomerang Miniature was described as, “Not Japanese and never will be, it is made in Switzerland.”

After WW2 the Chromorgan was made by Thorens for Seydel.

When I had thought I had finished my work here with the Swiss Connection I stumbled on this harmonica advertised in the Melbourne Weekly Times on the 23 September 1923 by Edments. Pat Missin confirms it is manufactured by Thorens. He also added Hans Rolz a Klingethal company made Brilliant harmonicas with a similar script and that they even had a Trademark that featured an anchor. There you go.

Thanks to Pat, John, Ray, Isabella and Michael for their contributions to this article.

 

1925

19th September, 2019

Hi there Riff Raffers,

Thought you may be interested in having a gander at the Mouth Organs sold by Albert & Son in Western Australia in 1925. No connection with J Albert & Son of Sydney. Do you have any of these? Maybe the short lived Baby Boomerangs? How short lived they were I’m not too sure as they were given away free with different items in 1934-a toy that fired a boomerang and a book titled 400 Ways To Get Rich were examples advertised in newspapers of the day. I have the more common Tiny. Never seen a Koala of the mouth harp kind-this would be a find. Interesting to see the Boomerang Grand sold with replacement reeds. I always wondered about the interchangeable parts branding. Hohner’s Blow With Ease has to be one of the worst monikers! Probably more appropriate for tissues. Mr Henry Bernard Albert proprietor of the Perth store was born in Wuerzburg, Bavaria in 1870 to a book selling family. As a young man he migrated to Victoria, Australia to seek his fortune mining gold. Not sure if he found any nuggets, but he found a bride (Eleanor de Fides) and they crossed the Nullarbor to settle in Western Australia. In 1908 he established a book selling and music store in Perth originally at the Central Arcade before moving to the premises in Murray street. Henry had one son (Norman) and three daughters (Mrs L E Pearce, Thelma & Melba).

Ch SD

PS: A couple of recent changes and additions have been made to the Aussie Models-Timeline.

Chromatically Chromonica Chronologically

16th August, 2019

Hi Riff Raffers,

A new, very old harp housed in its original box now resides in my humble collection. Mark Weber has meticulously investigated and reviewed technical aspects of the harp at chromhistory.

What follows is an account of my pursuance from world experts on how, when and where this Hohner harp, ‘The Up To Date Chromatically Tuned’ fits into chromatic history. Remember if you know what and how, you should known when and where. First cab off the rank of course was harmonica guru, Pat Missin.

Hi Shep.

I have never seen “Up To Date” on a chromatic, nor have I ever seen a Hohner chromatic that looks anything like that, nor does it resemble, as far as I can tell from the photos, any of the Hohner patents for chromatic harmonica. I have no idea where this fits into the chronology of the instrument. — Pat.

Pat in a follow up email had this interesting titbit.

The whole history of the Hohner chromatic is really weird. The 260 first appeared in Hohner catalogues and the music press around 1911. Then it vanished for more than a decade and finally pops up in catalogues around 1923, with the music trade publications describing it as a new instrument. Then a few years later still, the patent for it gets published. It’s all very odd.

So where this one fits into it all, I have no idea. It could be a prototype that somehow escaped. That has happened – I have a 14-hole Super Chromonica that was never officially produced. It could also be a short-lived design that somehow never made it into their catalogs and escaped the attention of the music trade mags. Perhaps it was unsuccessful and Hohner tried to pretend it never existed. At this point, I honestly have no idea.

Have you run this one by John Whiteman? — Pat.

No I hadn’t, so I ran this by John.

Hi Shep,

It is well documented that the 260 10-hole chromatic made its commercial debut in 1911.  The chromatic that you have is clearly earlier than that. Here is how I date it at approximately 1901:

1) The label indicates 3,000,000 harmonicas produced per annum and 1,000 workmen.  This dates it to approximately 1900. 

2) There is a star in the trademark.  I believe it was added in 1901.  That would date it to 1901 or later, but the 3,000,000/annum holds it back at 1901

3) The slide handle and spring are of a less mature design than the 260 that appeared in 1911.

4) “Up to Date” in the name meant nothing and was evidently put there because they had nothing better to say, yet they failed to suffix it with “harmonica”.

5) “Patented in All Countries” couldn’t be true, so they put it out in limited numbers with a CYA statement about patent, and probably about registration.

I suggest sending the photos to Martin Haffner at the harmonica museum in Trossingen.  I saw nothing like this in that Hohner Museum. Thanks for sharing the photos and history of your purchase. John

I took on John’s suggestion and contacted the museum, however a response would take several attempts and efforts of people working behind the scenes for it to come to fruition. Then blow me down, Pat had this fantastic discovery.

Looks like my gut feeling on the date was wrong. Attached is a page from Music Trade Review, September 1898. I missed this the first time I searched. I’m not finding any later references to it in MTR. — Pat.

When thanked and questioned on how he had acquired this gem, Pat replied.

Happy to help. I’m pleased I gave it another shot – this time I just searched for “chromatically tuned” and that turned it up.

Up until you found this one, the standard chromatic history was that there were several prototypes in the late 1800s, then Hohner advertised the 260 around 1910 (describing it as “the first and only practical one”), but then it vanished for more than a decade. It suddenly popped back up in the early 20s, with Hohner promoting it as though it were brand new. Even weirder, the patents for it didn’t get published until several years later and I’ve never seen any reference to the chromatic “Up To Date” in any Hohner publications, or elsewhere, except for that MTR article. It’s all very strange.

I have a pretty complete collection of German harmonica patents and I’ve never seen a Hohner patent that resembles the chromatic UtD. It’s possible that they may have registered a DRGM for it, but that’s not as easy to dig up. However, I agree with John that “patented in all countries” is some creative BS.

Anyway, here is some background that might be interesting:

https://www.patmissin.com/patents/patents.html#chronology.

Finally, after a little behind the scenes prompting, Martin Haffner (to be fair he had been away) from the harmonica museum replied.

Dear Shep

In short: Your find is spectacular! We do have many different Up to date harmonicas in our collection, but no “chromatically tuned”.

And just now I had a look inside the catalogues, printed for the American / English market in the early 1900s (around 1902/1903). Your model is not mentioned at all.

I’ve got a mail by Roger Trobridge England with an attachment of the Musical Trade Review, Sept. 1898. There is the “Up to date chromatically tuned” mentioned as a new Hohner product. Since the fan community is not so big, you must have got this source meanwhile.

My theory: In fact the model was produced in 1898 (perhaps still 1899), but it must have been a commercial flop. Probably the mechanism didn’t work.(?) As far as I know, our archive has no single document telling anything about this rare model.

The “Up to date chromatically tuned” was an early try. And there was a break of minimum ten years, until the later well known Hohner “Chromonica” was mentioned the first time.

Please send me your report / keep me up to date!!!

Best regards

Martin Häffner

Director

During this chromatic journey I became intrigued into the tuning of all these harps and wondered when and where ‘solo’ tuning came into existence. I probed Pat’s endless knowledge once again. Remembering that if we knew why and who, that would tell us when and where.

“Richter Tuning” is a relatively new term. I’m not certain, but it seems to have originated in the 1980s. The original term was “Richter System” and it referred to one of the various types of harmonica construction:

https://patmissin.com/ffaq/q36.html

Using the name Richter to denote the tuning is a little iffy, as other types of construction (Knittlinger and Viennese in particular) use a similar note layout. However, there is no denying that the term “Richter Tuning” is in common usage. It gets a little messy with the typical chromatic harmonica being technically a Knittlinger System construction (they are basically made like Concert harp, with the addition of the mouthpiece and slide assembly), so referring to them as “Richter Tuned” is a little awkward, although most people would know what you meant.

The 260 is the catalogue number for what was originally termed the Chromatic Harmonica and later the Chromonica, changing to the latter sometime in 1924. It has been made in several different tunings over the years. Initially, it was tuned like a standard 10-hole diatonic in C, with the button changing it to a C sharp scale. This was later referred to by Hohner as “Regular Tuning”, but most people now call it a Richter tuned chromatic.

By the 1930s, it was also available in Solo Tuning. However, that was different to how a 10-hole Solo chromatic would be set up now. Hole 4 and upwards were tuned like the Regular Tuning. 1, 2 and 3 blow were tuned E, G and C, the draw notes tuned F, A and B, with the slide raising each by a semitone.

Then some time later, the Solo Tuned 260 was changed so that it was like a standard 12-hole Solo Tuned chromatic, but missing the top two holes. Not sure when that happened – maybe after WWII?

 

 

 

The slide spring was changed from external to an internal one in the late 1920s around the same time the Super Chromonica was produced. The Super was originally designated 260 1/2 and later changed to 270. It has always been in Solo Tuning, available in a variety of keys.

Solo tuning predates the Chromonica by some time and was originally intended for use on diatonics:

https://www.patmissin.com/ffaq/q41.html

Older chromatic players recall the change to Solo Tuning back in the day, but apparently at that time it was called Haussler Tuning, after William Haussler who worked for Hohner US and was apparently responsible for a lot of harmonica development and promotion:

https://www.patmissin.com/78rpm/78rpm.html#williamhaussler

For thoroughness, the two patents I’ve been able to locate for the Hohner Chromonica are (click on diagram):

 

 

On the latter page I say: “The Chromonica 260 had been available for almost two decades when this patent was granted”. That probably needs to be amended. As far as I can make out, they announced the 260 in 1910/1911, but it doesn’t appear to have actually been available until later. It reappears in 1923 and is touted as being a new instrument. The following year it was recorded for the first time:

https://www.patmissin.com/78rpm/78rpm.html#borrahminevitch

Which brings me back to the Up To Date. I have been unable to find any other references to the UTD Chromatically Tuned, aside from that MTR article. If it weren’t for you actually owning one, I would have dismissed it as vapourware. There have certainly been numerous instances of Hohner announcing a new instrument that never actually materialised. My wife had an idea about this. She worked in product development for a couple of large companies and often they would send out trade samples of items. These were small production runs that were past the prototype stage and in their final (or near final) packaging, sent out to various dealers to test the market. Sometimes the feedback they got from them lead to changes in the product or packaging, sometimes it lead to the item being killed before going into full production. It’s possible that’s what happened with the UTD Chromatically Tuned and might explain why there are so few records of its existence. — Pat.

I had better throw in the 64 Chromonica into the chronology, which was available down under in 1936.

1936-Hohner 64 Chromonica

While we’re at it lets quickly have a gander where a couple of Aussie Chromatics fit within the chronology.

1936-Albert’s Boomerang Chromorgan made by Seydel (Picture courtesy of John Whiteman)

 

1937-Allan’s Crackamonic made by F A Rauner (photo’s courtesy of Doug Dawson)

A few closing, late additions relating to Klingenthal companies still having the external spring long after Hohner’s internal design and the use of standard tuning on Chromatics. Over to you Pat.

It seems reasonable to assume that the chromatics in Regular Tuning were intended for use with vamped chords in the lower octave. There is also the factor that it meant that someone experienced on a standard diatonic would be able to pick up the new fangled chromatic, without having to learn a new tuning. I suspect that was a factor too.

Also, there was a tuning variant for the 260 I forgot to mention-Alto Tuning. This was the same layout as the older Solo Tuning (ie the one with just the lowest three holes changed), but one whole octave lower in pitch.

It does seem like the Klingenthal companies lagged a little with chromatic design. It’s also possible that Hohner were aggressively defending their German patent from 1930. Currently a German patent has a term of 20 years. It used to be 15 years, but I’m not sure when it was extended. WWII may also have affected things. — Pat.

Further to Pat’s earlier mention that the 260 was not sold until over a decade after it was first announced, a Nicholson & Co advertisement in The Sydney Daily Telegraph (12th December, 1913) for Hohner’s celebrated Chromatic (selling for 7/6) would perhaps suggest otherwise, although this is the only evidence I could find of its sale before the 1920’s.

Pat responded.

As for the Nicholson’s ad, that is the earliest evidence of them being offered for sale that I’ve heard of. I had more or less come to the conclusion that they were advertised in 1910, but never actually sold until more than a decade later. That said, is it possible that Nicholson’s were advertising them without actually having any in stock? – – Pat

My immediate thought was that ‘The Great War’ may have impacted production and sales of the Hohner Chromatic.

Cheers and Guinness frothies to all participants, in particular to Pat Missin (& wife) whose efforts went way beyond the call of duty, John Whiteman, Martin Haffner & Mark Weber. In finishing, how and when didn’t tell us what and where, but it was who and what that told us when and where. Ch SD

Hohner’s Hollandia (Nova) Harp

6th May, 2019

G’Day Riff Raffers,

Hohner, a world leader in accordion and mouth organ manufacturing, had its share of difficulties in becoming one of the major players in the Australian Mouth Organ market in the early part of the twentieth century. Most models were available in the colonies and they included the popular ‘Up To Date’ and ‘Second To None’ mouth organs. However, Albert’s ‘Boomerang’ and Allan’s ‘Crackajack’ Australian flavoured mouth organs were streets ahead of the field. At the turn of the Century a commemorative model was produced by Hohner for the local market branded the ‘The Federation Souvenir- Century Advance’. In 1912, to further tap into nationalistic fervour and compete with their rivals, a mouth organ with an Australian identity the ‘Young Australia’ was introduced in two models-one for 1/3d and another for 2/- and they achieved promising sales.

A stumbling block to sales occurred in 1928 with a possible violation of Trademark regulations of Hohner’s ‘Young Australia’. The Australian Natives Association (where there were no indigenous Australians allowed) brought to the attention of the ‘Pollies’ of the day that the Australian flag was stamped on the instrument alongside ‘made in Germany’. The A.N.A had formed in 1871 in Melbourne by patriotic white men born in Australia who believed in a White Australia policy. They were heavily involved in the political processes of the time and in particular the federation of the colonies.

Then Federal Attorney General Mr. J.G. Latham proclaimed that, “The Trade Marks Act, 1905-19, section 18, provides that the Registrar may refuse to register any trade mark which contains any representation of the Flag of the Commonwealth. This section applies only to the registration of trademarks. Section 113 prohibits the use in connection with any trade, business, calling, or profession of the Royal Arms without the authority of the King or some other proper authority. This section does not apply to the Australian Flag. Section 114 (a), however, provides that the Governor-General may declare any mark to be a prohibited word or mark, and may also declare that that mark shall not be used or registered as a trade mark or part of a trademark. Under this provision it would be possible for the Governor-General to prohibit the use of the Australian Flag as a trademark, but the proclamation would have to be in general terms and could not under this provision be confined to goods of foreign origin. The Government is not prepared to prohibit the use of the Australian Flag in connection with all goods.” (Perth Daily News, 28 March, 1928)

This, and maybe with lingering resentment of Germany’s involvement in WWI (don’t mention the war) the ‘Young Australia’ was removed from the shelves.

In the 1930’s with the proliferation of mouth organ bands Hohner once again attempted to land a foot hold in the Australian market. They would promote the ‘Auto Valve Harp’ as an Australian model even though it had been sold internationally since 1910. Ray Grieve, Australian Mouth Organ historian, had been informed of this by Kurt Jacob who was sent ‘Down Under’ as Hohner’s representative to promote their products. Ray stated that,“Kurt told me that Hohner decided to use their already well-known Auto Valve Harp as ‘an Australian model’ rather than ‘invent’ a new Oz style brand name. Perhaps that was because of the legal problems they encountered when they marketed the Young Australia model? (Playing it safe).”

In 1938 there was a Hohner model only sold in Australia under the banner of ‘Auto Valve’-branded the ‘Auto Valve Vamper’, which could be purchased for three shillings at all good and bad music stores. It was a ten hole twenty reed diatonic model. The name is an oxymoron as the Auto Valve Harp is a Knittlinger instrument and the Vamper a Richter model. I’ll let Pat Missin, world authority on all things relating to the first instrument played in outer space take over, Vamper is a much-abused term. Strictly speaking, it means a Richter System instrument. Really, at this point we don’t know for sure what Richter did or didn’t do. We’re not even certain who he was. Vamper seems to have become the British-English term for the Richter-style diatonic some time in the late 1800s, although it was also sometimes applied to double-reed harps. Vamper seems to have been the preferred term in the UK, Australia and NZ, but not so much Canada or the US. Also strictly speaking, the Auto-Valve is a Knittlinger System harmonica. So by definition, an Auto-Valve can’t really be a Vamper – not that Hohner let anything like correct terminology get in their way.”

For further information check out Pat’s website

The term ‘Vamping’ and its origin is intriguing for the author. My idea of vamping was a chordal chugging arrangement. Could it/did it evolve from the word Vampire? There is sucking involved in playing! Again I’ll hand over to Pat Missin for his take on vamping, “I have always assumed that the term originated from the ability to vamp chords under a melody, although to be honest, you can do that just as well with a tremolo or octave harp. Also, “vamp” can mean slightly different things in different musical contexts, but most often it means an improvised accompaniment.” I researched further for the etymology and discovered it’s derived from the medieval French word avant-pied which translates to before the foot and was used in reference to the part of a stocking below the ankle. Somewhere in the middle seventeenth century the word was used for anything that had been fixed up (such as hole in a sock). The verb to revamp has its origins here. By the end of the nineteenth century into the musicians vernacular arrived the term vamp for short, simple repeated phrases (usually improvised) that were called a safety. In musical theatre they were originally used for stalling for time so the singer could use dialogue (a patch). Perhaps the origin of today’s looping. In 1933 Harold Collier, Crackajack Mouth Organ representative and Australian champion of 1927 and 1936, wrote two feature articles for the Melbourne newspaper ‘The Age’ on mouth organ playing. In the second instalment he explained the method of vamping under the heading of ‘How To Use The Tongue’. “The tongue is removed from the notes each time you blow and draw, in fact, it should move in and out as quick as a snakes tongue.” (The Age, 7 April 1933).

In my copy of the 1926 ‘Boomerang’ mouth organ instructional booklet, it outlines that when playing a chord accompaniment (vamp) you take the tongue off the three holes being blocked (to play the single note on the fourth hole) and then place the tongue back on and off again. “In practising this say La-La”. The booklet then emphasises to remember, “In Waltz Music the tongue would be taken off and put back 3 times to each measure. In Fox Trots, four times to a measure. In some Marches, four times to a measure. In some Marches, six times to a measure.”

This technique of tongue blocking to play a clean single note was another area of interest for the author. How did it come about? Who developed this unique method? Pat kindly expands on the topic, The subject tongue blocking and its place in history is something I’ve recently been discussing with Joe Filisko. He is strongly of the opinion that tongue blocking was essentially THE embouchure up until the 1960s, even for those players who rarely played chords. I think he’s right on that point and we are currently trying to figure out how the balance of power shifted towards the pursed lips embouchure.”

In a follow up he provides further detail, “The oldest English language book on playing the modern harmonica is from 1870. It describes tongue blocking as the way to play, although its instructions are rather vague. Interestingly, the instructions for playing the Pandean Aeolian only mention the pursed lips method.”

In Sonny Terry’s ‘Country Blues Harmonica’ (Oak Publications, 1975 p46) book as told to Kent Cooper and Fred Palmer by Sonny, it tells us that Sonny obtains single notes by centering down on one hole by using his lips, claiming it allows him free to do tongue flutters and trill effects. It does suggest you can combine both methods, but basically finishes by stating that you can make the same sound in many different ways.

The Auto Valve Vamper was a fair dinkum Aussie harp, but with the onset of the second world war (sorry I mentioned the war, but I think I may have got away with it) it was gone before it arrived. After the war Hohner would eventually establish itself in the Australian Mouth Organ market with their high quality Chromatics and also the ‘Echo Super Vamper’ (Hohner’s ‘Marine Band’ stamped differently for Australia and UK markets).

The first post war shipment in 1949 that reached the shores of ‘Terres Australis’ included a ten hole vamper mouth organ sold by J Madgwick & Co of Pitt street Sydney as the ‘Echo’. Interestingly Harry Landis’ music store in Elizabeth street Sydney of the same year advertised the twenty eight reed tremolo harp as the super-vamper. By 1952 the ten hole ‘Echo’ vamper transformed into the ‘Echo Super Vamper’ and quickly became a popular acquisition for those looking for a precision vamper. I had always wondered why the twelve hole model that appeared years later in an orange box wasn’t named the ‘Super Vamper’. One would have presumed the larger size would have been superior to the smaller. This model is identical to the Marine Band 364 which became popular after Sonny Boy Williamson II produced amazing sounds from the harp. Not sure why it was marketed this way, perhaps it was due to our predilection for the nomenclature (Vamper), which certainly had a resonance down under and sales would reflect their popularity. Pat Missin suggests, “When Hohner got seriously into export, they really concentrated on making products aimed at specific regions. Often what was essentially the same harmonica would be marketed under several different names, depending on where they were trying to sell it. The Marine Band was named after the US Marine Band and it probably didn’t make much sense to try and sell one in the UK. Likewise, as Vamper was not a term commonly used to describe diatonic harmonicas in the US, something called the Echo Super Vamper was not probably going to be a big seller in the States.

There you go.

Ch SD

PS: Thanks to both Pat Missin and Ray Grieve for the information they provided in this Dawg Blawg.

Hohner harmonica’s are distributed here in Australia by KJ (Kurt Jacob) Music. They are celebrating their 80th year in business. Check out their website .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aussie Models-Timeline

14th February, 2019

Hi there Riff Raffers,

A timeline of Australian models (an attempt), as promised a while back.

No no no, not that type of model, sorry! Australian brand harmonicas up to WWII. Like this.img_23341890’s-The Scorcher (F A Rauner/Feldheim, Gotthelf & Co)-up to 1920

1895/99-The Melba (?/H S Chipman-TM 1895), Crack A Jack (F A Rauner?/?)

1896Woolloomooloo Warbler-originally had a patent bone lip protector (Seydel/Alberts), Kangaroo Chalmer (Seydel/Alberts)-Later that year King Billy-two sided & another with bells maybe later at 3s 5d (Seydel/Alberts), Boomerang Large & Miniature-also three sided models in both (Seydel/Alberts-TM 1897), The Federal Harp-perhaps as early as 1880, three models sold in 1910 as the Midget Federal 20 reeds, Junior Federal 20 reeds & Senior Federal 40 reeds (Ernst Hess/J Hess & Co)

1896/98Native Waratah-with celluloid sliding cover (Seydel/Alberts-TM 1910), Wallaby and Possum (Seydel/Alberts-TM 1910)

1898Kookaburra & Cooee 2d (TM reg by M. Johs Richter)

1900The Bushman-originally 2 models 2/- 20 reeds & a 3/- then a 40 reeds at 4/6 (C H Meinel/ W H Paling), Larrikin ? (Carl Essbach) Century Advance Australia (Hohner TM)

1901Corroboree & Geebung (Hohner registered never sold), Federation SouvenirAdvance Australia (Hohner TM)

1902Boomerang Professional and a three sided model (Seydel/Alberts), Crackajack three models all with open back covers Professional, Senior & Junior 20 reeds-also sold by same brand Tommy Dodd and Little Gulliver, added later Boss Cracker, Cadet & Double (F A Rauner/Allans TM-1903), Kookaburra (Seydel/Alberts), The BuglerSmall 10 hole/20 reeds for 1/- and a Large 20 hole/40 reeds for 2/- (Seydel?/Deane and Sons), Wallaroo (C Essbach/Johnstone & Company) sold alongside the Humming Bird and maybe even earlier.

1903Lyre Bird-four models upgraded later to six (?/W F Coxon)

1904Bonzer & Boshter-sixpenny models (?/Allan & Co), Melba (F A Bohm/Flights-Bendigo)

1907Boshter Shake (?/Allan & Co)

1908Topnotcher-Ordinary & Professional, later the Nipper 8 pence and Amateur’s Harp a full sized concert harp 2/3 (circa 1914), then the Scout, Artists, Vamper, Standard & Concert Grand (C H Meinel?/W H Paling TM-1906), BoskerVamper 1/6 & Double Reeds 2/6 (?/Chapman’s), The Kangaroo (A Koch/-) different to Seydel’s later model of same name. Dickens’ Echophonean attachment for the mouth organ invented by Sydney Dickens and patented.

1909B.A.B (Boomerang Arch Bell) series: initially three models #1-4 professional organs 120 reeds with 2 sets of bells 17/6, #2-2 professional organs 80 reeds with 1 set of bells 10/- and the #3-1 professional organ 40 reeds with 1 set of bells. Later (1912?) a mini professional 20 reeds 1 set of bells and a mini professional double with 1 set of bells.

1910The Wallaroo-diatonic and a four sided model (Seydel/Alberts), Kookaburra (Seydel/Alberts TM)

1911-Boomerang Grands-Miniature Grand (nickel plated), Grand (nickel plated), Miniature Grand (black enamel), Grand (black enamel), Austral Harp, Black Gin, Wonga, Jabiru, Wombat, The Wallaroo, Golden Wattle, Budgeree & Lyre-Bird (Seydel/Alberts TM)

1912Cobber four models-20 reed Vamper, 20 reeds miniature professional, 40 reeds standard, 40 reeds professional (Bauer & Krause/Jackson & MacDonald), five Boomerang Professional Arch Bell models, Young Australia-two models (Hohner Special Edition-sold to 1920: TM 1912)

1913Rozella (Seydel?/A P Sykes)-3 models-Solo 20 reeds 1/-, with nickel mouthpiece 1/-3, with nickel mouthpiece and metal case 1/6, Concert 20 reeds with nickel mouthpiece and metal case 2/- and the Professional 40 reeds with nickel mouthpiece and metal case 3/-, Magpie four models-40 reeds, two large 28 reeds 5s & 3/6 and a small 20 reeds (?/Macrows) to 1920, Coo-ee (Seydel/Alberts), The Kangaroo & Wallaroo (Seydel/Alberts), Bess O’ Th’ Barn (F A Bohm?/A P Sykes)-3 models-Solo Artist 20 reeds 1/-(with nickel case 1/-6), Concert Artist 20 reeds with nickel mouthpiece and metal case 2/- and the Professional Artist 40 reeds with nickel mouthpiece and metal case.

1920’s-Bonzer-four new models (F A Rauner?/Allans), The Kangaroo (A Koch/-)- Made in Switzerland, Rigi model

1923-Boomerang (TM USA), Harola (Gebr. Ludwig/Harola)-sold 6 models 1/- to 10/- a new improved automatic valves sold in 1933

1924Boomerang De Luxe-‘Boomerang Shaped’ (Seydel/Alberts) with the slogan “Having Tried the Rest, Now Buy the Best” TM 1925 also Boomerang Tiny-four hole, Tiny De Luxe-five hole, Pocket, Miniature & Miniature Professional (Seydel/Alberts)

1925-Baby Boomerang and Baby Boomerang De Luxe (Seydel/Alberts) for a very short time. Koala Harp (?/?). Monarcheight models Piccolo, Vamper, Junior- 20 reeds, Senior, Tremolo Harp, Professional, Artist- 40 reeds & a Grand Concert Harp- double sided 96 reeds at one stage there was a ‘Monarch King’ (E Deinst?/Musgroves)

1926Perla four models-Medium 20 reeds, Medium Professional 20 reeds, Large 40 reeds, Large Professional 40 reeds (F A Rauner/Mick Simmons Pty Ltd)

1926/27-Crackajack upgrade to ten models-Cadet, Junior, Miniature Professional, Professional, Senior, Artist, Miniature Concert, Concert, Concert Grand, Tremolo Concert another advertisement listed them from lowest to highest price as the Tivoli 1/6, Cadet Plain 2/-, Cadet Nickel 2/6, Boss Cracker 3/-, Double 3/6, Junior 4/6, Concert 5/-, Senior 5/6, Professional 7/6 and Artist 10/6

1929-Trump (Hohner/Suttons)- 40 reeds 5/-

1930Auto-Valve Vamper (Hohner)-Marketed as ‘Australian’ Model and three other auto valve models-blue box with wide air slots, red box an octave lower, brown box two octaves lower

1936Chromorgan-Chromatic & Mezzo Boomerang-Diatonic, a lower music range model (Seydel/Alberts)

1937-Crackamonic-Chromatic (F A Rauner/Allans) also the Crackajack Regal a double sided, two different keys ‘C’ & ‘G’ with 48 reeds each side. Nickel plated and colourfully enameled. P C Spouse ‘Champion Series’-World’s Fame (F A Bohm/Mick Simmons)-3 models a small 20 reeds, medium 40 reeds and a large concert 40 reeds. The Federal Band-Chromatigrand (Johann Schunk/Mick Simmons)-2 models standard 40 reeds and a professional ‘Grand’ 48 reeds.

1939-Jazz Master (F A Rauner/Allans) replaced Crackajacks short lived due to war.

img_3035TM=Trademarked. First named=harmonica maker followed by music house. Unless otherwise stated.

Like ‘The Scorcher’, ‘The Federal Harp’ may not strictly be an Australian name brand, however the ‘Hess’ connection made it a viable inclusion, in my humble opinion. Ernst Hess of Klingenthal, Saxony, Germany made and registered the model (N.25116) and J. Hess & Co music wholesalers of Clarence street, Sydney sold the mouth organ. Ernst Hess had a display at the ‘World Fair’ held in Melbourne, Australia in 1880.img_1771

Please don’t take as gospel, however if you have any information it would be greatly appreciated. This is a fluid document that will be updated when new verifiable information comes to hand.

This research was a result of searching for the maker of Crackajack mouth organs (seeQuest For The Maker‘). Thanks to Ray Grieve & Pat Missin for all their assistance. Here is a collection of their endeavours.

Notes:

PM- I can’t find a “Kookaburra” trademark by Seydel, but there was a “Kookaburra” registered by M. Johs. Richter in 1898. Don’t know if that’s a trademark that Seydel later acquired, or if they are unconnected.

RG- The “Kookaburra” was on the market in 1902. His mention of the 1898 reference is interesting because a “Kookaburra” wasn’t in the original Albert’s range which came out in 1896. (Would be a rare one-off mouth organ if it was ever marketed by Richter.) Pat’s discovery would explain why Alberts had their unique and different “Kookaburra” on the market six years later, if Richter held a patent on it in 1898, which presumably must have lapsed by then?

img_1915-1PM- I’d already written a little about M. Johs. Richter on my website. On the same day that he trademarked “Kookaburra”, he also registered the same “Coo-Ee”. I doubt that these are connected with the later models of the same names, as his involvement with harmonica making seems to have been quite brief. He was mostly known for stringed instruments. Carl Essbach registered the name “The Larrikin” in 1900, for a variety of things including harmonicas. This was presumably for the Australian market, but I don’t recall any harmonicas with this name. Also that year, W.H. Paling of Sydney in conjunction with Glaser of Berlin registered the name “The Bushman” specifically for harmonicas. Again, don’t recall hearing of those.

img_1520-1Hohner registered a bunch of Australian-flavoured TMs, including “Century Advance Australia” (1900), ” Federation Souvenir, Advance Australia”, “Geebung” and “Corroboree” (1901) and ” Young Australia” (1912). The latter seems to have been their best seller Down Under.img_1195-1

Seydel’s earliest TM for “The Boomerang” was from 1897. They registered “The Moa” a couple of years later. They trademarked the name “Kookaburra” in 1910. I’m guessing the Richter TM was expired by then. The same year they also trademarked “Woolloomooloo”, “The Possum” and “Boomerang Miniature Grand”. The next year they registered “Austral Harp”, “Black Gin”, “Wonga”, “Haka”,”Jabiru”,”Wombat”,”The Wallaroo”,”Golden Wattle”, “Budgeree” and “Lyre-Bird”. In 1925 they trademarked a design for the Boomerang-shaped “Boomerang De Luxe” with the slogan “Having Tried the Rest, Now Buy the Best” and in 1926 they registered “Tapu” and “Kiaora”.

I also found a trademark for “Cobber” registered in 1911 by a Leipzig-based company called Bauer & Krause.

img_1552-1RG- Some notes on Pat’s brilliant research: There was a Bushman available in Australia in the 1920s and always sold alongside of the English Topnotcher. (see my “Boomerangs & Crackajacks” book P. 60). It was never advertised as an ‘Australian’ brand. Would seem that Hohner’s Geebung and Corroboree never went into production. I couldn’t find any mention in old Hohner catalogues. And if so Kurt would have definitely mentioned this to me. Very likely that Bauer and Krause made the Cobber. Couldn’t find any info on this at all from either Jackson or McDonald descendants. Would be interesting to know just how many of these actually went into production.

PM-https://www.trademarkia.com/au/crackamonic-71796.htm

img_1459-1It lists “Crackamonic”, but unfortunately has no other data on it. It gives the date Monday, January 1, 1900, but that seems to be the default for this site when they don’t know the filing date.

img_1591-1RG- Pat must be right regarding 1900 being the default date for the “Crackamonic”. It was marketed briefly from around 1938 – I had never seen one until the photo you sent. Most of the old Australian players were using diatonics and considered the Hohner as the superior chromatic anyway (Larry Adler had a lot to do with that).

img_1144-1Articles have already featured Crackajack & Cobber Mouth organs. Waiting in the wings W F Coxon’s Lyrebird, Hohner’s Auto Valve Vamper, Paling’s Topnotcher and Frank’s Boomerang.img_1754

Ch SD

PS: Just found (28/2/2019)! An application by Michel Francios Albert in 1927 for a Trademark. Mouth organ depicting picture of a Kookaburra and the words “The Kookaburra (Laughing Jackass)”. Application # 43906 April 23, 1927.

img_1803-15/3/2019- New addition ‘The Bugler’ sold by William John Deane and sons from 1902 to about 1909. Advertised as Deane’s patent and Sydney is stamped on the cover plate. Appears that it’s an Australian Mouth Organ although not an Aussie brand name, so to speak. Interesting to note that William Deane married Pauline Albert in 1896 (Jacques’ daughter and Frank’s sister). So maybe it’s a Seydel Mouth Organ because of the Albert’s/ Boomerang connection.

img_213523/3/2019- New addition the P C Spouse ‘Champion Series’ on a F A Bohm ‘World’s Fame’ mouth organ for Mick Simmons of George Street, Haymarket Sydney. More information in Ray Grieve’s upcoming third book on the history of mouth organs in Australia. P C (Percival) Spouse was Australian Mouth Organ champion in 1925, 1927, 1928 and 1935. Mick Simmons also had a chromatic brand ‘The Federal Band’ stamped on the cover plate of a Johann Schunk ‘Chromatigrand’.

img_2264

27/3/2019- A few more added. 1928 a ‘Baby Boomerang’ and ‘Baby Boomerang De Luxe’. Appears short lived for the same models branded ‘Tiny’. The ‘Koala Harp’ in the same year. Also in 1908 the Dickens’ ‘Echophone’ invented by Sydney Dickens of Carlton, Melbourne, Australia. A horn attachment for the mouth organ to increase volume. More to come in Ray Grieve’s third edition of the history of the harmonica in Australia.

2/4/2019- I’m throwing in Musgroves’ Monarch mouth organs from Western Australia from 1925 or thereabouts. Not an Australian sounding name, but being part of the Commonwealth  (Boomerang mouth organs were once advertised as the ‘Monarch Of Mouth Organs’) and also because Musgroves’ were sole distributors they’re in. More to follow.img_2176

23/5/2019-Recent discovery a ‘Tommy Dodd’ (the boy’s Crackajack) sold by Allan & Co in 1903 for sixpence and also the ‘Little Gulliver’ for 4/d made by F A Rauner. Story to follow!

Tommy Dodd

10/7/2019-Further updates on maker of Topnotcher’s-a Cadet model has appeared with the Balloon Brand and logo stamped on back cover plate which means C H Meinel made this one. In a 1899 trade page The Melba is pictured along with a Crack A Jack! Samuel Holmes Chipman of Margaret street Sydney trademarked the name Melba for musical instruments in 1895. In 1904 a new Melba model made by F A Bohm was sold in Australia. Have also placed Eduard Deinst tentatively as the manufacturer of the Monarch-research is pointing in his direction. Added the Wallaroo sold by Johnstone and Company of 27 The Strand and 672 George-street, Sydney, who were sole agents for Essbach’s celebrated improved Humming Bird and the Wallaroo mouth organs (TM must have lapsed and Albert’s swooped in). We also have two harps that may belong to the gift shops of prominent Australian Hotels. The Metropole (C A Herold) and The Grosvenor Harp (Seydel). Articles to follow.

18/9/2019-Latest updates to timeline. B.A.B Boomerang Arch Bell models advertised earlier than indicated. Preceded the Boomerang Grands and were sold as early as 1909. Rozella’s came in a few different formats and I’ve included the Bess O’ Th’ Barn models sold by A P Sykes as they appear to have only been sold in Australia. The other addition is The Kangaroo, made in Switzerland mouth organ-circa 1920. An article on this will be out before the end of the year.

19/10/2019-Latest additions include the Harola made by Gebr. Ludwig for the Harola company of Brisbane (1923) and the Trump made by Hohner for Sutton’s Music stores in 1929. Stories in the mail as we speak.

8/11/2019-Two additions the Bosker made for Chapman’s Up-To-Date Music & Musical Instruments of 694 George Street Sydney in 1908.

In 1914 Palings Topnotcher mouth organs had two models the Nipper and a full sized concert harp the Amateur’s Harp in a superior case.

9/12/2019-Another find. The Boshter Shake mouth organ sold in Melbourne by Allan & Co (1907) sounds like it may have had some type of horn attachment to produce a hand tremolo effect.

Up To Date

 

24th September, 2018

Hi Riff Raffers,

Having determined that collecting vintage/antique harmonicas was confined to my past why did I shell out twenty bucks on another harmonica that didn’t even have its original box. Their worth more in their original packaging.

Freud would say it had something to do with my toilet training, of course he would. It certainly was not as an investment, although I have given my son details on how much I paid and how much I believe my collection is worth for when I pass from this mortal coil. I appreciate that I can’t take them with me. Speaking of the mortal coil, on the flip side it would be great to catch up with Noah, the greatest collector of all time, who had a fetish for two of everything. Knowledge is a double edged sword or should I say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, or both. Somewhere in my past learning about the age of Hohner harmonicas and through television programs who regularly suggest if you haven’t seen one before you should buy it. I could not contain myself and it was a bargain at twenty dollars. Wasn’t it?

This model is named ‘Up To Date’, patent applied for and the M. Hohner signature appear on one of the cover plates. Apparently Hohner produced more than a dozen ‘Up To Date’ models. I believe it is a twenty hole non-octave harp with a segmented comb. Hohner produced these to take advantage of the belief in the market place that the octave harp had a superior tone. It had the appearance, but not the cost of its octave cousin. The comb is a large block of pear wood or maybe peach, perhaps this could help identify when it was manufactured. The key of ‘D’ is embossed on the cover plate. Is this a clue as embossing is earlier than engraving? With the patent applied for inscription could it be as early as 1895 before the 1896 patent of the Marine Band? Without the ability to carbon date I will set about trying to determine how old the mouth harp is. Information is limited and it won’t be an exact science, but with some ‘nouse’ in regards to the Hohner Trademark I will take a closer look through my magnifying glass. My eyes are not what they used to be.

The reverse plate displays the Hohner Trademark. There is a small six pointed star in the circle. A larger star would mean it was of a later vintage. The star was removed with the rise of the Nazi party in the 1930’s, although it wasn’t the Star Of David. The six points on the star represents Matthias Hohner’s six sons who were running the business at the turn of the twentieth century. It thus pre dates WWII. Another give away of the age was the ‘mouse ears’ or the double tabs on the cover plate where it’s nailed to the comb this clearly makes it before 1925. The ragged sleeve edges of the hands holding the circle date it earlier than WWI when combined with the single circles wrapped around the Wien and Philad medals. I’m not sure if this is applicable for this model as it is with the Marine Band, but there is four nails connecting the reeds to the comb and they don’t appear to be stamped.

I’m thinking that the harmonica I have collected is somewhere between 1900 and 1910. It means it’s ‘bloody’ old and it’s an antique, being over hundred years old. The harp’s history intrigues me, where has this harmonica been, whose lips have covered the plates and blown life’s breath through the chambers, were they a legend of the game? Before I become too nostalgic, how much is it worth? Still clearly what someone is prepared to pay for it, in my case twenty Australian dollars.

Ch SD

PS: Here’s what Pat Missin believes it may have been. See comments below for further details. img_1658